Gretna

This article is about the Scottish town. For Gretna in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana see Greater New Orleans.
The old blacksmith's shop at Gretna Green.

Gretna is located in Dumfries and Galloway in South West (Scotland). It is known as a border town, the border with England being just to the south. This entry concerns both Gretna and Gretna Green, which is located on the other side of the M74.

Understand

As the first town across the Scottish border, Gretna had a football team that for many years played in England until a new owner took it for a drastic rise and fall as a Scottish team.

More notably, border status made Gretna Green a traditional stop for weddings that could be prevented in England but not Scotland at a time when English law was more restrictive. The tradition dates to 1754, when England required parental consent for under-21's to marry.

A "marriage by declaration," where anyone could perform a ceremony, existed in Scottish law until 1940. This led to many marriages being solemnised "over the anvil" at the Old Blacksmiths Shop in Gretna Green, still a popular and traditional venue.

The marriage laws in England and Scotland are now similar, leaving few couples legally needing to cross the border to get married. Gretna remains a popular venue for weddings of people from the UK and further afield, with about 5000 weddings per year celebrated in a village with a population of 2700.

Get in

Crossing the border

Gretna is well served by road, being just off the M74. Both road and railway fork at Gretna to take traffic to Glasgow or Dumfries; a train trip to Gretna is slightly more difficult since passengers on the main west coast line have to get off at Carlisle and take a train north on the Nith Valley line, which stops for Gretna Green very soon after crossing the border and splitting from the main line.

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